The Week in Review: December.6th – December.13th

A prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran paved the way for hope this week, as both the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif expressed an ongoing interest in further prisoner exchanges.

American student Xiyue Wang had served three years of a ten year sentence in Iran when a swap was agreed between the two countries. Iranian stem cell researcher, Masoud Soleimani, was released as part of the exchange.

The development was seen by some analysts as a sign that both countries could be more amenable to negotiations on other matters like the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, criminal charges against two other Iranians held in the U.S., who were also detained in connection with Soleimani, were dropped, POLITICO reported.

More than 160 prominent Iranian lawyers wrote a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, asking for an investigation into the violent crackdown on protesters inside the country last month. The lawyers demanded that the Iranian government release official figures on the number of people killed and injured, compensation for their families, and the immediate dismissal of officials involved in approving the decision to use lethal force on unarmed protesters.

Despite an initially muted response, the international community expressed growing concern over the use of violence by Iranian security officials during the Iran protests.

U.S. Congressmen Ted Deutch and Joe Wilson launched a bill in Congress showing support for Iranians demonstrating against the Iranian government’s management of the country.

The resolution calls on the international community to hold Iran’s government to account over its use of lethal force during demonstrations, asks the Iranian government to abide by international law, and urges the U.S. administration to develop and share better communications technology with the Iranian people to protect freedom of speech inside Iran. The bill is the first of its kind.

New sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department on Iran’s largest airline and its shipping network, over the alleged transportation of weapons of mass destruction and lethal aid, were announced. The sanctions are due to be implemented next year. The Iranian government confirmed that foreign investment inside Iran had more than halved since sanctions came into effect.

  • The UK Foreign Office says it is most concerned about the detention of its British dual nationals in Iran, but families of those imprisoned are not convinced.
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  • Several MPs in Iran have called for renewed transparency inside parliament, starting with the provenance of money being spent on political campaigns.
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  • A meeting in London organized by the UK Labour Party was designed to court Iranian voters.
    Link to source.